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Bible Commentaries

Gary H. Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures
Psalms 42



Verses 1-11

Psalm 42

Introduction- Many scholars consider Psalm 42, 43to be one complete Psalm for several reasons. First, both Psalm have the same refrain. There are a number of other Psalm that uses a refrain throughout. For example, Psalm 107 uses the same refrain in five of its verses.

Psalm 42:5, "Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted in me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him for the help of his countenance."

Psalm 42:11, "Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God."

Psalm 43:5, "Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? hope in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God."

Secondly, Psalm 43has no title thus implying that it may be a continuation of Psalm 42. Psalm 43, 71are the only Psalm in Book Two without a title.

Thirdly, although the Greek Septuagint lists these two Psalm with separate titles, some ancient manuscripts join these two Psalm.

Characteristics- Names of God used in the Psalm:

1. God The Lord

2. The living God

3. O my God

4. The God of my life

5. God my rock

6. O God

Theme - The theme of Psalm 42may be "How to over come enemies: Hope in God, Praise Him still, or "A prayer and a song in my heart and His loving kindness."

Psalm 42:1 (To the chief Musician, Maschil, for the sons of Korah.) As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God.

Psalm 42:1Word Study on "Maschil" - Gesenius says the Hebrew word "Maschil" ( מַשְׂכִּיל) (H 4905) is a participle meaning, "a didactic poem." Strong it means, "instructive," thus "a didactic poem," being derived from ( שָׂכַל) (H 7919), which literally means, "to be circumspect, and hence intelligent." The Enhanced Strong says it is found 13times in the Old Testament being translated in the KJV all 13times as "Maschil." It is used as a title for thirteen of the 150 psalms ( Psalm 32; Psalm 42, 44, 45, 52through 55; 74; 78; 88; 89; 142).

Most modern translations do as the KJV and transliterate this Hebrew word as "maschil," thus avoiding the possibility of a mistranslation. The LXX reads "for instruction." YLT reads "An Instruction." Although some of these psalms are didactic in nature, scholars do not feel that all fit this category. The ISBE says, "Briggs suggests ‘a meditation,' Thirtle and others ‘a psalm of instruction,' Kirkpatrick ‘a cunning psalm.'" 52]

52] John Richard Sampey, " Psalm ," in International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, ed. James Orr (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co, c 1915, 1939), in The Sword Project, v 1511 [CD-ROM] (Temple, AZ: CrossWire Bible Society, 1990-2008).

Psalm 42:1 — "for the sons of Korah" - Comments- Origen tells us the psalms that include the title "sons of Korah" in its opening verse (42through 49, 84, 85, 87, 88) were written by the sons of Korah, who worked together in the unity of the Spirit to produce it. He justifies this statement by quoting Psalm 44:1, which says, "O God, we have heard with our ears."

"But if it be necessary also from the ancient Scriptures to bring forward the three who made a symphony on earth, so that the Word was in the midst of them making them one, attend to the superscription of the Psalm , as for example to that of the forty-first, which is as follows: ‘Unto the end, unto understanding, for the sons of Korah.' For though there were three sons of Korah whose names we find in the Book of Exodus , Aser, which Isaiah , by interpretation, ‘instruction,' and the second Elkana, which is translated, ‘possession of God,' and the third Abiasaph, which in the Greek tongue might be rendered, ‘congregation of the father,' yet the prophecies were not divided but were both spoken and written by one spirit, and one voice, and one soul, which wrought with true harmony, and the three speak as one, ‘As the heart panteth after the springs of the water, so panteth my soul alter thee, O God.' But also they say in the plural in the forty-fourth Psalm , ‘O God, we have heard with our ears.'" (Origen's Commentary on Matthew 14:1) 53]

53] Origen, Origen's Commentary on Matthew, trans. Allan Menzies, in The Ante-Nicene Fathers, vol 9, ed. Allan Menzies (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, c 1896, 1906), 495.

Psalm 42:1Word Study on "the hart" - Strong says the Hebrew word "hart" ( אַוָּל) (H 354) means, "a stag or male deer," which comes from ( אַיִל) (H 352), which literally mean, "strength (i.e, a ram)." In contrast, a female deer, or a doe, is called a hind ( אַיֶּלֶת) (H 365). Holladay says the word ( אַוָּל) means, "fallow deer," which Webster says is a small European deer (Cervus dama) having a yellowish coat spotted with white in summer. Webster says a hart means, "the male of the red deer."

The word hind ( אַיֶּלֶת) is also used in Genesis 49:21, Proverbs 5:19, and Jeremiah 14:5.

Genesis 49:21, "Naphtali is a hind let loose: he giveth goodly words."

Proverbs 5:19, "Let her be as the loving hind and pleasant roe; let her breasts satisfy thee at all times; and be thou ravished always with her love."

Jeremiah 14:5, "Yea, the hind also calved in the field, and forsook it, because there was no grass."

Psalm 42:2 My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before God?

Psalm 42:1-2Comments- Note these insightful words from Sadhu Sundar Singh regarding the hunger in man's heart for God.

"Water and petrol both come from the earth, and though they seem to be alike and even the same, they are in nature and purpose exact opposites, for the one extinguishes fire and the other adds fuel to it. So also the world and its treasures, the heart and its thirst for God are alike His creation. Now the result of the attempt to satisfy the heart with the wealth and pride and honours of this world is the same as if one tried to put out a fire with petrol, for the heart can only find ease and satisfaction in Him who created both it and the longing desire of which it is conscious (Ps. xlii 1 ,2). Therefore whoever now comes to Me I will give to him that living water so that he will never again thirst, but it shall be in him a well of water springing up into eternal life (John iv 14)." 54]

54] Sadhu Sundar Singh, At the Master's Feet, trans. Arthur Parker (London: Fleming H. Revell Co, 1922) [on-line]; accessed 26 October 2008; available from; Internet, "III Prayer," section 2, part 5.

Psalm 42:3 My tears have been my meat day and night, while they continually say unto me, Where is thy God?

Psalm 42:3Comments- The enemy"s challenge Isaiah , "Where is God?" Death also challenges with this cry. "The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God." ( Psalm 53:1)

Psalm 42:4 When I remember these things, I pour out my soul in me: for I had gone with the multitude, I went with them to the house of God, with the voice of joy and praise, with a multitude that kept holyday.

Psalm 42:5 Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted in me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him for the help of his countenance.

Psalm 42:5"hope thou in God" - Comments- We have hope as Christians of Jesus and the resurrection and of eternal life.

Psalm 42:5"for I shall yet praise him for the help of his countenance" - Comments- Despite circumstances, I will still continue to praise my God ( Psalm 8:2).

Psalm 42:5Comments- We must have hope in order to praise God. That is our reason for praise. Amen and Amen. Truly you are God.

Psalm 8:2, "Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings hast thou ordained strength because of thine enemies, that thou mightest still the enemy and the avenger."

Psalm 42:6 O my God, my soul is cast down within me: therefore will I remember thee from the land of Jordan, and of the Hermonites, from the hill Mizar.

Psalm 42:6 — "therefore will I remember thee from the land of Jordan" - Word Study on "Jordan" - Strong says the Hebrew name "Jordan" ( יַרְדֵּן) (H 3383) means "a descender."

Comments- The "land of the Jordan" probable refers to a mountainous strip of land just east of the Jordan River.

Psalm 42:6"and of the Hermonites" - Comments- Mount Hermon is north of Lake Hula and its springs give rise to the Jordan River. The YLT reads, "And of the Hermons…"

Psalm 42:7 Deep calleth unto deep at the noise of thy waterspouts: all thy waves and thy billows are gone over me.

Psalm 42:7 — "Deep calleth unto deep at the noise of thy waterspouts" - Comments- Note these insightful words from Frances J. Roberts regarding this verse:

"Lo, thou seekest revival. Thou doest well; only seek it not in the energy of the flesh. For the flesh is ever intent upon its own interests; yea, it ever lusteth after those things which do perish with the using. For I would that ye might seek Me in Spirit: then would I come down upon you in all My fullness, and would hold back nothing of all that I desire to do unto thee. For My ways are hid from them that seek Me in the energy of the flesh. Deep calleth unto deep at the noise of the waterspouts, ( Psalm 42:7) and lo, I am in thee, yea for this very purpose above all other purposes, have I taken up Mine abode within thee; that My Spirit might be diffused through thy spirit, and that we might be one even as I am one with the Father." 55]

55] Frances J. Roberts, Come Away My Beloved (Ojai, California: King's Farspan, Inc, 1973), 73.

This phrase seems to be figurative language to describe man's spirit crying out to the living God, seeking the Lord in spirit, from a pure and passionate heart, rather than seeking the Lord in the flesh. I have had this verse quickened to my while worshipping the Lord (May 10, 2004).

Psalm 42:8 Yet the LORD will command his lovingkindness in the daytime, and in the night his song shall be with me, and my prayer unto the God of my life.

Psalm 42:8 — "and in the night his song shall be with me" - Comments- Note these insightful words from Frances J. Roberts about a song in the night.

"Behold, I am near at hand to bless thee, and I will verily give to thee out of the abundance of heaven. For My heart is open to thy cry; yea, when thou criest unto Me in the night seasons, I am alert to thy call, and when thou searchest after Me, the darkness shall not hide My face, for it shall be as the stars which shine more brightly in the deep of night. Even so shall it be. And in the night of spiritual battle, there shall I give unto thee fresh revelations of Myself, and thou shalt see Me more clearly than thou couldst in the sunlight of ease and pleasure. Man by nature chooseth the day and shunneth the night; but I say unto thee that I shall make thy midnight a time of great rejoicing, and I will fill the dark hour with songs of praise. Yea, with David, thou shalt rise at midnight to sing. It has been written, ‘Joy cometh in the morning', but I will make thy song to break out in the night. For he who lifts the shout of faith and praise in the night, to him verily there shall be joy in the morning." 56]

56] Frances J. Roberts, Come Away My Beloved (Ojai, California: King's Farspan, Inc, 1973), 80.

Psalm 42:9 I will say unto God my rock, Why hast thou forgotten me? why go I mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?

Psalm 42:9 — "I will say unto God my rock" - Comments- A rock sets us on solid ground that we may stand against life"s circumstances ( Matthew 7:24-25).

Matthew 7:24-25, "Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise Prayer of Manasseh , which built his house upon a rock: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock."

Psalm 42:9 — "why go I mourning because of the oppression of the enemy" - Comments- The enemy in Psalm 42:9 could be many things, such as death, Satan himself, tribulation and trials, people, etc.

Death will be the last enemy to be destroyed.

1 Corinthians 15:26, "The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death."

Psalm 42:10 As with a sword in my bones, mine enemies reproach me; while they say daily unto me, Where is thy God?

Psalm 42:11 Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God.


Copyright Statement
These files are copyrighted by the author, Gary Everett. Used by Permission.
No distribution beyond personal use without permission.

Bibliography Information
Everett, Gary H. "Commentary on Psalms 42:4". Gary H. Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures. 2013.

Lectionary Calendar
Wednesday, October 23rd, 2019
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29
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